Christian barrister challenges Norwich Church
Speaking in Norwich on the eve of the launch of the Government’s consultation into gay marriage, Andrea Minichiello Williams challenged the Church in Norwich to work together to stand in the public space and claim it.
On Wednesday 14 March, Norwich charity, Call to Prayer hosted two events with the Founder and CEO of Christian Concern and the Director of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams.
At a lunchtime meeting Andrea, a barrister, spoke to an invited gathering of Christian leaders from the city and in the evening spoke passionately to a group of around 100 Christians at an open event held in the House of Prayer, Fishergate.
Andrea Minichiello Williams calls herself a ‘missionary lawyer’. It is her mission to crusade against the erosion of Christian laws in the UK and campaign for the rights of Christians. And it is a task she does tirelessly.
Over recent years, Andrea has championed many of the high profile cases involving Christians being penalised for matters of faith. Speaking persuasively and fervently, Andrea listed case after case where Christians - a nurse, counsellors, registrars, a children’s worker, foster parents and a GP - had lost their jobs or been given warnings due to acting on their beliefs.
As well as fighting court battles through the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea also lobbies Government on issues of ‘permissive’ legislation through its sister organisation Christian Concern.
Starting with the Abortion Act in 1967 and continuing to the present day with the consultation into same-sex marriage and the proposals from the Commission on Assisted Dying, Andrea gave her audience a potted history of how the Church has allowed the Christian legal framework of this country to be eroded.
Her arguments paint a bleak picture and she is unashamedly outspoken about the outcome: “We are catapulting towards Hell”.
Adapting Jeremiah 2 to illustrate God’s displeasure at the state of our nation, Andrea concluded: “This is what we have done. We have forsaken the fount of living, beautiful, fantastic life – water – and we have dug sewer pits that can’t hold water and what they hold is dirty and rotten and isn’t good and makes you sick.
“How can we, this nation, how can we have so turned our back on our incredible, beautiful, fantastic heritage which led the world? Isn’t it incredible what we have forsaken because we have not loved the Lord?”
Her answer and her challenge is to fight. She said: “Church, we have been silent and now we are facing a rearguard action. If we cross the marriage line where can we go? I feel personally responsible if marriage is redefined, but we are corporately responsible.
"We are on a slippery slope. Don’t leave it to me and Christian Concern because we are not big enough."
“We, here, are Christ’s hands and feet and mouthpiece. Start acting. Churches need to be creative, come together, not be territorial, but committed, complementary and serving the needs of Norwich. Who else is God going to use? You are God’s army in Norwich.”
Christian Concern is one of the founding partners of the ‘Coalition for Marriage’ campaign which encourages Christians to petition against the redefinition of marriage.
Another campaign promoted by Christian Concern is ‘Not Ashamed’, a declaration proclaiming ‘Jesus Christ is good news for our nation, that he is the only true hope and solid foundation for our society’. The declaration is supported by the wearing of wristbands and lapel badges displaying the cross.
Her work is controversial and she admits to facing criticism from within the Church.
“As soon as I began to speak on the issues which I believe are the critical issues of truth in this day, and which are Gospel issues - which is with regards to life, the status of life, the family and the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ and his exclusive claims to trust - when I started speaking on those, because our laws stood against them, then even some of my friends were not liking what I was saying.
“And let me say that the hardest part of this ministry is the criticism from the Christians. We are brethren. We love all people. We love our Christian brothers and sisters.... But when your own family doesn’t get it, it hurts”.
In Norwich, the gathered audience seemed in full support of her message and went away with her final challenge ringing in their ears: “There is stuff to do…be creative. You don’t need to be involved in every campaign. Find your thing and do it. Don’t be overwhelmed and do nothing”.